Towards the end of the 19th century, there was a determined effort in Ireland to encourage and cultivate a Gaelic revival and the promotion of Gaelic games played a major role. Prior to the foundation of the GAA in 1884, Gaelic games were played in our parish with teams from Foynes, Robertstown and Shanagolden, many of which had political connotations. There is mention of a Hurling team in Foynes in the 1890’s called the Father Murphy’s, known in Limerick as the “Shannon Sweepers”. Also at this time, Barrigone had a Hurling team known as the “Liberators”. A little later in Shanagolden there was a Football team, called the Shanid Abu’s. In the early 1900’s there was the Smith O’Brien’s Football team in Foynes, formed with the support of Charlotte Grace O’Brien, and were a very successful team, capturing the Senior Football title in 1907 when they defeated the famed Commercials from the city. There is also mention of two Football teams in Shanagolden during the War of Independence and Civil War, the Clarence Mangan’s and the O’Rahilly’s. Captain Tim Madigan would have trained and played on these teams up to the time of his death in 1920.
Moving on to the 1920’s and 1930’s, it would appear that teams were either under the banner of Foynes or Shanagolden. In 1925 Foynes captured a county Junior Football title and in 1933, Shanagolden and Foynes contested the West Junior final with Shanagolden emerging winners 1-5 to 1-4. Then in 1936, Foynes reached the county Senior Football final but were defeated 0-7 to 0-3 by Ahane who were led by the legendary Mick Mackey.
With the outbreak of WW2 in 1939 our country moved into the Emergency. The economy came under severe pressure and there was a scarcity of food and communities suffered many hardships. After the war ended in 1945 there was a slow return to normality but emigration became the norm. In our Parish with a decline in population there was a move to form one Gaelic club to unite the community.
In the spring of 1947 a public meeting was convened in Foynes and after much debate and discussion a new club came into existence and St. Senans GAA club was formed. The first officers were: President; Fr. Tom Cussen, Chairman; John Cinders Mulvihill, Vice Chair; Jim King, Secretary; John Kenneally and Treasurer; Jimmy Finucane. The new committee had two major issues to address 1. to register the new club and the affiliated a minor and junior Football team and 2. to successfully negotiate a 35 year lease on a green area from the Lord Mount Eagle Estate and this field is known now as Páirc na nGael Naomh Seanáin.
The 1950’s saw St. Senans announce its arrival on the GAA stage. Four Juvenile titles back to back 1951, ‘52, ’53 and ’54. A Junior Football County title in 1953 was followed by a Minor title in 1954. The Juniors were captained by Bowen Madigan while Donie Mullane lifted the Minor cup. In 1956, St. Senans had Moss Downey, Mick Walsh and Mike O’Malley on the Limerick Minor Football team that won the Munster Championship.
In 1965 St. Senans won the juvenile West title and this led to very successful minor teams. St. Senans minor footballers won two West minor titles in 1966 and 1967 and captured two U14 football championships in 1968 and 1969.
The 1970’s brought the 2nd County Junior title to the parish. St. Senans defeated Na Piarsaigh 1-10 to 1-7. Pat Lane was player manager and Joe Behan was team captain. This was the decade also that St. Senans took part in Scór, participating in drama and signing events.
The 1980’s would prove to be one of the most historical in the history of the GAA in the parish. The 35 year lease on the grounds was due to expire in 1982. Club Secretary Mike Mullane and club Chairman Vincent Kelly led the drive to secure ownership. The property was purchased and St. Senans celebrated the 1984 centenary of the GAA on its own grounds. In 1986, St. Senans won their 3rd junior title defeating Kilteely-Dromkeen. The team was captained by Donal Mulvihill and trained by Jackie Walsh from Ballylongford. The construction of the clubhouse commenced in the mid 1980’s and was opened in 1987, a great achievement with a lot of voluntary labour. Michael Moroney from Ballycormac became chairman in the late 1980’s and during his term great work was done on the field development programme, which can still be seen today with our fabulous playing surface in Foynes. We must also mention Pat Lane who refereed the All Ireland Senior Football final between Meath and Cork in September 1987.
The 1990’s would be considered the golden age of our underage of Football and Hurling in the club. Mick Cleary, Mike Moroney, Mick Meade and John Roche led a hurling revival in the parish with great success. St. Senans represented Limerick in Féile Peil na nÓg in 1993 and 1994. Numerous titles arrived in hurling and football. The U16 football Premier title arrived in 1995 followed by the Minor Premier Football trophy which was lifted by Michael Flaherty in the Gaelic Grounds. In 1997, St. Senans celebrated the clubs 50th anniversary. President of the GAA, Joe McDonagh performed the official opening and afterwards we were treated to a wonderful game of football between Kerry (the league champions) and Meath, the All Ireland Champions.
Moving into the 21st century it might be viewed as the era of the Inter-county players. Conor Mullane and Timmy Carroll won a Munster U21 Football title in 2000 with Limerick and were unlucky to lose to a great Tyrone team in the final. For the next 17 years, St. Senans had representation on the Limerick Senior Football team, playing in five Munster finals and two league finals in Croke Park. In the year 2007, St. Senans had five players on the Limerick Senior panel: Conor Mullane, Timmy Carroll, Diarmuid Carroll, Andrew Lane and Ian Ryan. Returning to club level, St. Senans captured their 1st intermediate Football title in 2003 by beating Pallasgreen in Kilmallock after a replay. This team was captained by Eoin Sheehy and the management team was Pat Lane, Sean Greaney and Damien Fitzgibbon. In 2006, St. Senans, playing in the Senior championship had a great run and reached the county final for the 3rd time in the history of the parish. Unfortunately St. Senans were defeated by Abbeyfeale after a gallant performance. This team was trained by Ollie Coffey, captained by Diarmuid Carroll and selectors were David Naughton, Damien Fitzgibbon and Joe Ryan.
In 2004, St. Senan's Bord na nÓg was founded to serve our growing population and interest among our younger generation. Michael McMahon, John O’Malley and Niamh Finucane were just some of the pivotal figures at the time that helped start Bord na nÓg which has thrived to this day with teams at all ages for both girls and boys.
In 2012, St. Senans reached an agreement to purchase an adjoining field to the existing pitch, commonly known as King’s field to further develop our club and no doubt it will prove a major asset in the coming years.
In 2017 St. Senans claimed their 2nd intermediate Football county title when they defeated Galbally in Rathkeale under lights, 4-9 to 2-8. The team was managed by Damien Fitzgibbon, trained by Shane Kelly and captained by Ian Ryan and the selectors were Pat O’Shaughnessy & John Hanlon.
LGFA did not commence in the parish until 1980-1990’s when St. Senans had girls teams competing in Community Games. In 2008 and 2009, St. Senans fielded a junior team under the management of John Hanlon, Mike Behan and Maurice Fitzgerald and they enjoyed some success.
Many of that team later got involved in coaching which has now brought young girls into Gaelic football. We must mention the U15 girls team who will shortly be going to Mallow to play in Féile 2022. Their mentors Mike Behan, Damien Fitzgibbon, Martina Fitzgibbon and Olivia Fitzgerald deserve recognition. St. Senans also had Hannah Neville, Summer Behan, Grace Fitzgibbon and Evelyn Fitzgerald playing on the County Limerick U14 Football team which won the Munster title. At Minor level, we have two girls also on the Limerick team Rebecca Fitzgibbon and Ella O Connor, a wonderful honour and a great achievement.
We must also acknowledge the contribution of James Naughton has been making to Limerick Football. James is now one of the star forwards in Billy Lee’s ever improving team. They followed up their promotion to Division 2 by making history on the 30th of April 2022 as they beat Clare in the Senior Football Championship's first ever penalty shootout. James scored the decisive spot kick to seal victory and Limerick advanced to the Munster SFC semi-final, beating Tipperary and qualifying for the Munster SFC final against Kerry. The best of luck to James and many more years of success with Limerick and St. Senans.
Looking back since the formation of St. Senans one is immediately struck progress, growth and development over the past 75 years. In 1947, there were just two teams and the club was very much male orientated. Today it caters for young boys and girls from ages of six to seventeen, while at the top end of the club, we have a ladies team, a men’s U20, a Junior B team and an intermediate football team. At the helm we find a very progressive committee with male and female members. Sport should not always be about winning, the emphasis at underage should really be enjoyment, participation and friendships. There will be victories, titles and trophies, but our intention here is not to catalogue all sporting accolades or individual achievements as it would be impossible in this brief summary.
We conclude with a huge thank you to all who played a part in St. Senans over the last 75 years, officers, committee members, players, mentors, volunteers, supporters and sponsors. We also think of all those who have departed this world and gone to their eternal reward, May they Rest In Peace.